PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Myrtle Beach is one of the most popular vacation spots for Pittsburghers.
If you’re thinking of taking your family there this summer, you may want to begin planning now to get the best deals.
“We see tons of folks from Pittsburgh down here,” said Susan Phillips, from VisitMyrtleBeach.com, as she sat with KDKA’s David Highfield on a sun-soaked beach.
When it comes to getting to Myrtle Beach, it’s a nine-and-a-half hour drive.
But if you want to fly, check out what we found for a random week we picked in July.
There are no non-stop flights from Pittsburgh International to Myrtle Beach. However, you can fly US Airways for $366 a person or fly Delta for $368.
But you’ll save money by flying out of Arnold Palmer Airport in Latrobe. Spirit Airlines does offer a direct flight during the summer, and the cost is $263, roughly a hundred dollars less. Plus, parking at the airport in Latrobe is free.
Where to Stay
There are numerous hotels along the beach, and some of them offer deals if you book early.
At the Holiday Inn Oceanfront Resort, you can save 35 percent if you book 90 days in advance.
Another way to save is renting a condo.
At Oceana Resorts Patricia Grand, you can stay right on the beach. There’s a pool, a lazy river and you have a kitchen with a full-size fridge so you can make some of your meals. Some units even have washers and dryers.
“With the kitchen amenities, and you’re eating in, you can actually have a great vacation for a very reasonable price,” said Kim Sanborn, from Oceana.
The average rental price is $180 during peak season in July, so it’s comparable, or less than some nearby hotels.
You can save even more money at the resort by staying mid-week instead of over weekends, and also by choosing a unit without one of their fabulous ocean views.
Some families enjoy renting beach homes, and Katie McKenzie from Surfside Realty showed us a gorgeous one.
It’s just south of Myrtle Beach and right on the ocean.
“The advantage of Garden City and Surfside Beach is that we have 3.7 miles of sandy white beaches, and there’s always room for two more,” said McKenzie with a smile.
McKenzie says this particular home is one of their luxury properties. It has five bedrooms, a pool, a built-in barbeque and a sunroom.
The price may be more than many of us can afford during peak time in July. It’s $7,300 a week.
However, if you wait until after Labor Day, you can cut that price by more than half.
It goes down to $3,200 a week!
Phillips says the water is still warm and the beaches are less crowded after Labor Day.
McKenzie, however, says you should consider travel insurance, especially if you plan a trip during hurricane season.
She also says a way to possibly save hundreds of dollars is choosing a home that’s a few blocks back from the beach.
Things to do Under $25
There’s plenty to do for less than $25.
Ripley’s Aquarium is one of the most popular attractions. Admission is $22.99 for adults and $14.99 kids ages 6 to 11. However, you can pay less if you grab one of the coupon books which are all over Myrtle Beach.
“There are coupons in coupon books, you can also go on our website and purchase tickets cheaper,” said Jessica Mula from Ripley’s Aquarium. “Two dollars off for an adult, a dollar off for a child.”
If you’ve never been up in a helicopter, it’ll only cost you $20 a person at Huffman Helicopters to get a brief bird’s eye view of the beach. The ride is only two-and-a-half minutes, literally. (Longer rides cost more.) But it’s still fun, and with one of the $5 off coupons, you can actually go up for $15.
As for freebies, in the summer, there are fireworks, often twice a week at Broadway at the Beach.
You can find free concerts on the events calendar at: http://www.visitmyrtlebeach.com/things-to-do/events/.
There’s also T.I.G.E.R.S. Preservation Station, which is free to visit, but it costs money to pose for a photo shoot with the wild animals.
You can’t talk Myrtle Beach without talking golf, and you can save with that as well. Especially in the middle of the summer because demand is actually less than in spring and fall.
“There’s a lot programs where kids can play for free with their parents,” said Phillips.
She also suggests checking out afternoon tee time discounts.
Myrtle Beach Golf is one of several sites listing specials. Some of the resorts and rental housing also have package deals, which include golf extras.
In addition to regular golf, Myrtle Beach also prides itself on a multitude of miniature golf courses.
There are more than 30 in the area, and once again, coupons are available in coupon books that can save you a dollar or two on admission at many of the courses.
A Dose of Pittsburgh
If you get a little homesick, try Umberto’s Pittsburgh Italian Trattoria, which was started by some Pittsburghers.
Then, there’s the place with a Steelers logo on the side of the building: Oscar’s.
“It absolutely is a Steelers bar,” said owner Carla Williams. “Has been for 25 years!”
Williams’ late husband was from Pittsburgh, and now Oscar’s is like Steelers central in Myrtle Beach.
“You come in here on a Sunday, and it’s like being at Heinz Field,” said Dave Kelley, a Steelers fan who lives in Myrtle Beach now but used to live in West Virginia.
As you walk in the front door, you see black and gold everywhere.
Williams says they bought some of the items, but many are gifts from Steelers faithful who come to visit.
They serve Iron City beer and a sandwich that’s kind of a nod to Primanti’s.
While we were there, we met Jeanne Cooke and Tom Antolovich who just moved there from Wilkins Township. They said Oscar’s makes them feel like home, but they also a have warning for anyone who comes to visit Myrtle Beach.
“They will love it! They may not go back!”